So, do you have children?

MGR Accounting Recruiters in
on Feb 1, 2015. Posted inBlogging In Balance

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You are sitting in an interview that seems to be going well, and then all of the sudden youMGR Accounting Recruiters - Child OMGosh look are caught off guard… “So, do you have children” they ask.  What do you do?  Maybe something you said prompted the question, or perhaps it popped up out of thin air.  Either way, what do you say?  How do you respond?

This is one of those defining moments where your reaction can make or break the interview.  Many people may say the appropriate response is, “None of your business!”  But the reality is that a defensive response in an interview can cause an awkward moment that you are likely not to recover from, thereby costing you the job.  So what do you do?

We’ve listed a few responses you may want to consider if ever confronted with this situation:

  • Answer the question with a question.  “Why do you ask” is one possible response.  By responding in this manner, you find out the intention behind the question.  Among the possible innocent intentions are:
    • they may be asking because of something you mentioned, but it was spontaneous and not an important issue to them, or
    • they may be asking because they have children themselves and are trying to relate to you on a personal level.

It’s possible of course that they are asking because they perceive parental responsibilities to be a hindrance to the work schedule, but by answering a question with a question you will see if indeed that is the case.

  • Answer the question, but anticipate the concerns.  If the employer is asking because they think your responsibilities as a parent may cause issues at work, another option is to answer it and explain how you handle emergencies that may come up.  Adding this information to the response can help you if the employer has had issues in the past and therefore has decided to ask about this up-front.  (Side-note:  It is still an inappropriate question.)
  • Answer the question directly.  A third possibility is to simply answer the question directly without any additional information.  While you may feel that the employer is trying to discriminate against you, and this may indeed be the case, some people feel that they wouldn’t want to work for a company that doesn’t value employees with families.  If you feel that way, then the best answer may be to just answer the question and thereby put the employer in a position of showing you their feelings on the issue.  For most people it is better to know up front rather than find out the hard way later.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you as you interview for jobs in the future.  While employers are not supposed to ask such things, inevitably some do and as a job seeker you have no choice but to try to make the best of the situation.

Until next time, I wish you the best in your search.

Mark Goldman CPA